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Review: JBL Go3 portable mini speaker

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JBL Go 3 speaker review Sometimes you want a portable speaker that can fill a space, and if you’re car camping or in the backyard, you don’t need to worry too much about size or weight. But other times you need something that’s ultra compact and light; something that can fit into a pocket or backpack and not weigh you down. There’s no shortage of options for smaller portable Bluetooth speakers including Anker’s SoundCore Mini to Bose SoundLink Micro. JBL also makes the versatile Clip 4, and JBL fans will be glad to know there’s an even smaller version of that highly portable option: Meet the JBL Go 3. In this review I’ll test out the JBL Go 3, and let you know about its main features, and if I think it’s a good portable micro-speaker for you.

JBL Go3 speaker
4.8

Summary

The JBL Go 3 continues its reputation as the cute JBL product for those who want cool design, ultra-small size, and decent sound in an affordable package.

Pros

  • Super small, yet powerful
  • Sound quality is good
  • Weatherproof
  • Cool design
  • Very portable

Cons

  • Loop isn’t really functional
  • Battery life could be longer

What you get with JBL Go 3

As the budget model of the entire JBL portable speaker lineup, you don’t get very a lot of stuff in the box. Aside from the Bluetooth speaker itself, you get a short charging cable, quick start guide, warranty card, and safety sheet.

JBL Go 3 speaker review As the third entry in the Go family, JBL added some nice curvy refinements to the body, and it can be used standing on two sides, or laying flat, as well as hanging. The bottom rubber grips allow the speaker to still stand upright and the speaker grille has a nice soft fabric feel. The built-in loop is a neat addition making it a suitable budget JBL Clip alternative even if it takes away the symmetrical design of its predecessors. Even so the loop I found to be a bit less than functional since it doesn’t open up; it could use a carabiner or clip in the package so you could attach it to a bag.

Set up process

Pairing the JBL Go 3 with your device is no different than most other Bluetooth devices with a Bluetooth button. Just hold the Bluetooth pairing button and go through the usual steps depending on your device. There is no other way to hook up this speaker with a device as it lacks both NFC and a 3.5mm jack.

Onboard controls

The 1st and 2nd iterations of the JBL Go had all the physical controls on the top side. The JBL Go 3 breaks that tradition by putting the power and pairing buttons on the side while the “Play” button and volume controls take the top center stage. This could make it easier to fiddle with the media controls without accidentally powering off device or putting the speaker back in pairing mode. Double tapping the “Play” button can also trigger a “Next” function if the active player supports it.

Connections/Ports

JBL deserves some high praise for finally putting a USB-C port on the JBL Go 3. The included charging cable has a USB-A port on one end but if you have a spare USB-C to USB-C cable, you may use that instead. With the charging port being the only exposed port, the JBL Go 3 maintains its waterproof stature. However, with the redesigned rugged body, the JBL Go 3 scores a cool IP67 rating making the speaker dustproof as well.

JBL also bumped up the Bluetooth version to 5.1 which isn’t a huge deal for a small speaker but it puts this version more in line with other modern Bluetooth 5 devices which boast extended range. One connectivity improvement I would love to see in a future model is the ability to pair with multiple devices, since this version lacks that feature.

The JBL Go 3 is also another reminder that a newer version doesn’t mean an improved version in every single aspect. Folks hoping for a built-in microphone for speakerphone functionality will have to opt for the nearly 4-year-old JBL Go 2.

JBL Go 3 speaker review

JBL Go3 is waterproof

To test out the waterproof nature of the speaker I dropped it into a pool while on vacation. This speaker does not float, so there is always the possibility of losing it into a lake or deep water, but once I fished it out and shook the water out of it it sounded just fine and no worse for the wear.

Sound Quality: JBL Go 3

JBL Go 3 speaker review The Cliff Notes on this speaker: The JBL Go 3 sounds surprisingly good for its size. It’s reasonably well balanced, gets decently loud, but does lean a bit towards the high end. The bass is on the thin side and it is missing some resonance, but all told in a speaker this size, you’re not likely looking for high fidelity anyway, and these sound limitations are not unexpected in a speaker this small. This speaker is about providing decent quality sound that is extremely portable. JBL Go 3 delivers.

Battery Life/Charging

JBL didn’t change their battery life estimates so you can expect about 5 hours of play at regular volumes. Cranking up the volume will obviously shorten the battery life. Fortunately, if you have a spare powerbank, you may use it to provide some extra juice.

With other portable speakers being able to last more than twice as long, the JBL Go 3 might seem weak and lacklustre here. But JBL always positioned the Go products as a travel-friendly, prioritizing the small and light form factor over other things like long battery life. The JBL Go 3 simply has a smaller battery which contributes to the speaker weighing less than a half-pound. If battery life is more important than size, check out the JBL Clip 4 which is also highly portable. The Go 3 doesn’t feature any sort of fast charging tech which is fine as that would probably add to the cost.

Overall review: JBL Go 3

JBL Go 3 speaker review The JBL Go 3 continues its reputation as the cute JBL product for those who want cool design, ultra-small size, and decent sound in an affordable package.

On the plus side, it’s weatherproof, extremely small and portable and it sounds good for its size.

On the con side, the little loop isn’t likely to be very helpful unless you buy a carabiner or clip for it. The battery life seems awfully short but truly any major downsides can be fixed by upgrading to a bigger JBL speaker: If you want some of JBL’s proprietary technologies like Connect+ or PartyBoost for multi-speaker setups, if you want longer battery life or a bigger sound, go for one of the bigger JBL siblings like JBL Flip, Charge or the big and powerful JBL Boombox.  Of course prices climb accordingly. But the JBL Go 3 sells for a wallet-friendly $49 USD / $59 CAD and would be a great gift for wanderlust types.

I can definitely recommend the JBL Go 3 to you.


**A note about Affiliate Links: TechGadgetsCanada & TechGadgetsInternational is supported by our readers. Occasionally I will include affiliate links in my reviews. I do this partly for convenience of the reader (since I’ll almost always include a link to the company website or similar anyway) in case you want to read more or purchase, but I also may get a small commission from the click, which helps me keep the blog running. If you choose to use this link I thank you greatly for supporting the blog. There’s no obligation or cost to you for using these links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Erin L

Erin L

I'm a journalist, tech blogger, writer, TV producer, silversmith& jewelry designer, foodie and world traveler. I blog, write for publications, and supply freelance writing services to Calgary, and the world.

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